One of the players Jared Berggren leaned on for advice leading up to the NBA draft was another former post player for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.

Greg Stiemsma told Berggren, a 6-foot-10 forward, to not get discouraged if he didn’t hear his name called Thursday night.

Vander Blue, a 6-foot-4 guard, got similar advice from Wesley Matthews. Both players were standouts at Madison Memorial High School and Marquette.

Berggren and Blue weren’t among the 60 selections Thursday night, but they can look at the career paths of Stiemsma and Matthews for inspiration.

After going undrafted in 2008, Stiemsma played overseas and in the NBA’s Development League before landing on his feet with the Boston Celtics in 2011. He signed a two-year, $5.27 million deal with Minnesota last offseason and averaged 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 76 games with the Timberwolves in 2012-13.

Berggren bumped into Stiemsma last month while he was in Minneapolis for a draft workout operated by the Timberwolves.

“He didn’t have a ton of NBA looks when he came out of college, but he just stuck with it,” Berggren said of Stiemsma, a 6-11 Randolph native. “The advice he gave me is, ‘Regardless of what happens in the draft, you have to keep working hard, keep grinding and improving.’ That’s what it took for him to find his way into the NBA.”

Matthews went undrafted in 2009 but was invited to training camp by the Utah Jazz and made the team. He started 48 games and averaged 9.4 points as a rookie and signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers in the summer of 2010. He averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 34.8 minutes per game this past season, his fourth in the league.

Berggren and Blue likely will have several offers to play in the NBA Summer League, which is where Matthews made a good impression and earned a camp invite.

A few seconds after the draft ended, Blue — who bypassed his final season at Marquette to enter the draft — took to Twitter to congratulate the players picked Thursday night and then tweeted, “Ready for summer league.”

Jim Polzin covers Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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(7) comments

Fightin Hodag

The 2014 draft is much stronger than last nights draft, while Blue might have improved as a player by staying at MU, he would have seen the same result on draft night next year.


Makes me wonder where Vander Blue got his initial advice to skip his senior year.
It's not too bright to come out early when your not sure you will be selected. It reminds me of Rashad Griffith.

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg


I believe Blue got his advice from people around him that I suspect don't have HIS best interests in mind. It's one thing to not like going to classes, another entirely to leave yourself with but one very longshot option.

Every year you have kids coming out early that have no business so doing, as far as playing professionally goes. Far more aften than not it doesn't turn out well.

I truly hope Jeronne Maymon (who redshirted at UT this last season) has finally stoped listening to the toxic voices around him that view him as little more than a meal ticket.

The Gotch (JMM Class of '73)


Jeronne took a medical redshirt last year after a knee surgery that went awry.

He graduated from Tennessee in May and will be playing his final season for the Vols as a Grad Student.

Upon completion of his final season, Jeronne will have the opportunity to pursue a pro basketball career in the NBA (currently listed as a potential pick) or Europe. He has also had NFL teams show interest in him as a Tight End potentially.

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg


I wasn't dissing Maymon and wish him well. My point was, in my and the opinion of others, he was letting the wrong people bend his ear.

Based on everything I've been told by people in the JMM program, including staff and past players, who were shocked he stayed eligible in HS, I'm surprised he graduated from UT.

He'll play somewhere, and I could see him as a TE.

The Gotch


Sorry but comparing Blue to Griffith is apples and oranges. FIrst the head coach that recruited Griffith left. Also Griffith went on to have a stellar pro basketball career, we have yet to see what Blue will or won't do. Griffith COULD have easily played and started in the NBA, he CHOSE not to. You can agree or disagree with his choice and why he made it but he CHOSE to play in Europe where he was treated like a king, paid fantastically (and tax free) and won loads of Championships and MVP awards in Europe. Basically he chose to be the big fish in a small pond and got paid rather than being a mediocre fish in the big pond and getting paid about the same when it was all said and done....I can see why Griffith chose the way he chose....


They both seem like the kind of players that could make a contribution to an NBA team.

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